Did you know? People who own home beer brewing stores are very popular, so we’re glad to have Whit Nelson of Brew Camp coworking with us for about a year now.
Brew Camp is a home brew supply store not far from our coworking space in Ravenswood (they have a second location in Evanston), a Chicago neighborhood full of diverse businesses and people. Founded by Nelson and his partner, Jared Saunders, Brew Camp just celebrated their fourth year slinging hops. “Brew Camp was actually Jared’s idea,” says Nelson. “He had owned BrewCamp.com for years, and we kept talking about it. Finally I said ‘Ok, let’s put up or shut up.’ The original plan was just to sell online, but once we opened, the community seemed quite glad to see us there.”
Brew Camp hosts private events, conducts classes, corporate education and more. “We’re going to be building out a full event space, so we can hold private parties, birthdays, and other events,” says Nelson. “Plans are in the works to renovate the private event space so people can come brew their own beer, wine, cider or soda.”
When he’s not brewing beer, Nelson plies his original trade: IT. He has a degree in computer science and builds custom software including the POS (point of sale) system and online store that run Brew Camp. The goal is to eventually craft all of that into a software suite and sell it to other small businesses.
That’s the kind of work he mostly does here at Platform. “I can’t really get a lot of work done in the shop, I tend to talk to a lot of customers and that’s good, but when I’m working on the back end, I need a quiet place to focus on my work or take a phone call,” says Nelson. “I’ve also found I have to get out of the house. There is a high correlation between productivity and putting on pants.
“It definitely puts me in the right mindset to get work done and [Platform] has all the tools and spaces I need to be productive. You never know you’re going to need a shredder, for instance, until you do. They seem to have everything right at hand.”
When it comes to coworking, Nelson has another unique perspective in that he utilizes coworking spaces when he’s on the road. “I travel around a lot and I pretty much try to find a coworking space wherever I am, just because I need it and I like it.
“I like really jumping in to the places I visit. With coworking, it’s almost like an Airbnb. You’re dropped right in the middle of it and you’re instantly meeting people as though you got a job in that city,” he says. “What could be more of a head start, especially when you’re a freelancer? I’ve used Liquid Space to find coworking locations in other cities. I try to find a different one every place I go and a different spot to work every time I’m there. They all have different styles: some are green and eco-oriented. Some are very physical, almost hardware-related with desks set up where you can assemble things, which I could see using on the home brew side of my work.”
This coworking veteran’s take on Platform? “I’m a headphones-on, head-down kind of worker, but it is a friendly space here,” he says. “What I really like to do is come in and work on Sundays. I always know that this place is here and almost empty on a Sunday, and I’ve definitely had some nice, chill, quiet, extremely productive Sundays. Now, with the new renovation, there’s even more space in which to work.”
Yet another facet to Nelson: he’s a comedian. “I moved to Chicago to do comedy, pretty much every kind you can name. But the late nights and smokey bars take their toll.” says Nelson. “Right now what I do is ‘Live Lit,’ basically where you write a short piece, get up and read it with a bunch of other writer geeks. Most common one I do is Write Club, at The Hideout.”